I cannot recall where I have read the line “Do not make homes out of people.” I do not make homes out of them but perhaps I may have in the past, for I used to depend my emotions on others, which made me dangerously attached to these homes.
Attachment is different from commitment, I have learned.
At this point in my life, albeit still at the mark where I am in a transition from an ignorant child to the person God wills me to be, I have known what home feels like, how it is different from what I viewed back then.
I always thought that home was exclusive only to places, to houses, to buildings, to rooms. But take away the person who inhibits those places and all you’ve got is emptiness. A void. A repository of memories which is of course nothing compared to being with that certain person.
A house is just a house after all without the light within.
A day before Mother’s Day this year, my Mom and I braved the long travel from Zambales to Bagac, Bataan to visit Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, a heritage site for old abandoned houses prestigious in the Philippines centuries ago. I have visited the place with my Dad last October; it was different then, as we were only a few in the site, compared to when Mom and I went to Las Casas last May 10.
Prior to our visit to Las Casas, Mom had introduced the place already to me before. She said it was the old area where we went to before when I was still a kid. I remember it as bare and wide with overcast skies. I also recall the pink slipper I lost to the sea at that time. Mom told me she wanted to go there, so I said to myself, we will go there together, and I am happy that we did, especially just a day before Mother’s Day!
Mom and I went with a large group of people on the tour. Mom loved the old houses and we both appreciated the interiors as well, like the chandeliers in the house which looked like a prison inside and the view from one of the big houses where you could see the church and the mountains.
I had my Dad’s camera with me, and I had fun taking photos of my Mom, both candid and with a pose!
We also waited until the sun began to set, walked across the sand, stayed near the river, and basked in the evening light.
Las Casas feels like home to me now (not because it shelters various houses from different eras of the Philippines, of course) because I was there with my Mom.
Before we went to Bataan, we shared a long and heavy and inspiring conversation while having baked potatoes and salad in a restaurant Mima loved when she was in college. I learned a lot from my Mom then, and we shared that moment together, with tears and laughter present.
“Marami akong gustong gawin. Minsan kapag natutulog ako, naiisip ko yung lahat ng gusto ko pang gawin,” said my Mom.
I never really gave much thought on how to make my ideas happen before. It was just all about ‘I have a dream, I have a goal’ but they stayed there. Just ideas. Sure, I may have graduated (thank you Mima and Dida always for this) and read lots of books but at the end of the day, it is not what we have learned that matters but rather, it is what we do with what we have learned.
Besides the resilience, passion, commitment, accountability for my own decisions (both good and bad) and good and wise judgment that Mom taught me, she has also lent me the knowledge of cooking and doing best with what you have. Even though we have little, we can still come up with something from these things.
We live in a simple home, and Mom manages a humble and small business. How she took on the risk and got out of her comfort zone and braved the odds, I can never comprehend. How she balances her time between caring for me even if we are miles apart most of the time, how she looks after me and messages me every day even when she is tired from all the tasks she has to do in a day, how she once cooked four different dishes (dinuguan, ginataang kalabasa at sitaw, pork and chicken adobo, and paksiw na bangus – all my favorites) in one day just for me to have enough food in my place in the city and how it drained her out of energy…
And of course, how she would remind me of the things I thought I knew already, of things I forgotten, of things I never knew yet. How she offered me the ultimate love of a mother when I broke down from my own plights.
From my Mom’s actions and my Dad’s as well, I saw God’s unconditional love.
And it is time for me to give back to them. It is now the child’s responsibility to create and maintain something for her parents. It is now the child’s turn to help. Wherever God takes us, I want to realize my dreams with my Mom and Dad. Also, to do what my Mom and I love to do and that is to cook!
There are so much more, to be honest, to say about my Mom. So much more is an understatement. My head and heart are racing with things and moments we have shared together, of the lessons I have learned from her. She is not just the ilaw ng tahanan – she is my sun. I wouldn’t be here right now at this point in time when I am doing what I love to do with the gifts God has graciously given me if it weren’t for my Mom and Dad who gave me the opportunities to widen my skills, who let me follow my own dreams, helped me learn from them, who taught me the value of learning from my own decisions, and who let me grow as a person with the knowledge that a garden blooms with both sun and rain.
I want to be like her who comes out strong but still has the tenderness and humility to retreat and stay quiet to hear God’s words. We are alike, Mom and I, but she is stronger and has more self-control, for I tend to break down at one brush of a painful memory. We express our sadness or anger in tears, and we go on speaking even while crying. Crying for us is sometimes not a form of weakness but rather of strength and courage.
There is not a day that goes by without us saying I love you to each other. I know words are only words and actions validate them, but with the kindness and love and commitment and discipline that my Mom has given to me from the day I was born to today, there is nothing to validate at all. Never will there be a need for it.
My Mom loves me and in our household, love is not a feeling but a verb.
And home is not a place but a person.
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Mima ko, I love you! I will always be your bibi, along with our two ducklings Twixie and Portia, Siba, Huey, Harry, Sweater, and Mocha! 🙂